Family still on struggle street after Key leaves

By Heather McCracken

John Key with Aroha in 2007. Photo / Dean Purcell
John Key with Aroha in 2007. Photo / Dean Purcell

The mother of the 12-year-old girl John Key took to Waitangi three years ago says she has been let down by the Prime Minister, and her daughter now wants nothing to do with him.

Joan Nathan said she and her family were worse off since National won the election.

She'd lost her job with National list MP Jackie Blue, arranged by Key, and a training allowance she received had been cut.

"They gave me the job to sweeten the deal, and then as soon as they got elected I got the sack," she said.

"I'm pretty anti-Mr Key at the moment."

Aroha was invited to Waitangi with Key in 2007 after a visit to Owairaka's McGehan Close, where the family live.

Key was fronting up to residents after labelling the street a dead-end where "the rungs of the ladder of opportunity had been broken".

He invited her to join him at the Treaty commemorations in the Bay of Islands, where he walked across the bridge to Te Tii Marae with her.

Nathan said she had been impressed by Key during his visit but had changed her mind since the election. "He's just made everything worse for us and made it easier for ones that are higher up. I'm struggling every week."

The mother-of-five has care of three of her children: Aroha, George, 17,who is at Burnham military camp, and Joshua, 11. Two younger girls, aged 4 and 6, live with their father.

She works part-time and attends a professional bartending course, but lost her training allowance because of government cuts, and struggles to make ends meet.

In 2007 she took up a job arranged by Key at National MP Jackie Blue's Mt Roskill office, which ended at the 2008 election. Nathan said since then she occasionally heard from Blue and a staff member for National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, who "checked up on her."

Key had also visited the family last year to help with a Housing New Zealand issue. Nathan wanted to shift to a one-level house, as a medical condition makes it difficult for her to use the stairs, but said the problem still has not been resolved.

Aroha, who attends Mt Albert Grammar School, didn't like the media attention on her trip to Waitangi, and no longer wanted to talk about it, Nathan said.

A spokesman for Key said he had visited her home last year to try to help resolve the housing issue, and had spoken to her on the phone several times since the election. Key didn't wish to make any further comment.

Jackie Blue said Nathan worked 10 hours a week doing administration for Mt Roskill office up until the 2008 election.

She wasn't re-employed because Blue merged her office with Lotu-Iiga, and didn't need to rehire staff.

Blue said she had tried to keep in touch, but Nathan's phone had been disconnected.

- Herald on Sunday

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